It’s important to gain weight when you’re pregnant. Not only does your developing baby weigh something, but the placenta that nourishes your growing baby weighs something, the amniotic fluid that cushions and protects your developing baby weighs something, and your blood supply actually increases in order to keep both you and your baby nourished and healthy. If you were of normal weight before you got pregnant and are only carrying one baby, you should gain about 25 to 35 pounds, according to the March of Dimes. If you were overweight before you got pregnant, you don’t need to gain as much weight but you should still gain some. If you’re carrying twins, of course, you should gain more weight.
That baby weight doesn’t go away as soon as you give birth, though. Many women are anxious to get back to their pre-pregnancy size but it can take some time. Here are some tips to help you lose that baby weight.
Breastfeed Your Baby
Breastfeed your baby, if possible. Breastfeeding has many benefits for you and for your baby, including helping you lose that baby weight. If you can’t breastfeed for some reason, you can still lose the weight you need to lose and you and your baby can still be healthy. Breastfeeding gives both you and your baby a number of advantages, though.
Eat a healthful diet. While important for all new moms recovering from childbirth, this is especially important for breastfeeding moms. Include sources of lean protein, whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, and healthful fats (like salmon, nuts, olive oil and avocados). It can be hard to find time to cook when you’re busy caring for a new baby, so stock up on quick and healthful foods like Greek yogurt, string cheese, almond butter, whole grain crackers, nuts and fresh fruit that you can grab in a hurry.
If you’re breastfeeding, you shouldn’t try to diet. Instead, just fill up on healthful foods. If you were obese prior to your pregnancy or if you gained an excessive amount of weight during your pregnancy, talk to your doctor or a registered dietician about how many calories you should eat in a typical day.
Drinking plenty fluids low in calories helps you feel full and satisfied. Often, people actually mistake thirst for hunger, eating when they are really thirsty and would be satisfied by drinking instead. Women that breastfeed need even more fluids in order to produce adequate supplies of breast milk.
Of course, regular exercise will help you lose weight and as an added bonus, it can help prevent or reduce postpartum depression. It can be difficult to squeeze in trips to the gym, though, when you’re busy caring for a new baby. The “What to Expect” website suggests squeezing in extra physical activity when you can, by doing things like parking at the far end of the parking lot so you get to walk a bit further to reach your destination. If it’s easier to exercise at home than to get to the gym, find some exercise videos online or invest in a treadmill. You can also exercise with your baby, by taking him for walks in a stroller or signing up for a Mommy and Me yoga class.
Don’t begin an exercise program after giving birth until cleared by your doctor or midwife. If you’re too exhausted to get much exercise in, don’t worry. Choose sleep over exercise when necessary. Even small amounts of physical activity will help and getting enough rest is also an important component of good health.
March of Dimes. Weight Gain During Pregnancy.
La Leche League International. Weight Loss While Breastfeeding.
American Pregnancy Association. Eating for Two When Over or Under Weight.
What to Expect. Four Tips for Losing Baby Weight after Pregnancy.
Also by This Contributor:
Losing Weight after Pregnancy
Stomach Exercises after Pregnancy
How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off